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What can you add to a jar of curry sauce?

There are many delicious ways to enhance and customize a jar of pre-made curry sauce. With the addition of extra vegetables, proteins, dairy products and various seasonings, a basic curry sauce can be transformed into something truly mouthwatering. This article will explore the wide range of ingredients that can be added to spice up curry sauce and provide creative recipe ideas to take your curries to the next level. Whether you want to stretch a jar into multiple meals or add complexity to a quick weeknight curry, having go-to add-ins and mix-ins on hand is key. Read on for tips, tricks and ingredient ideas to inspire your next batch of homemade curry!


Adding extra vegetables is one of the easiest ways to bulk up a jar of curry sauce and introduce new flavors, textures, and nutrients. Here are some great veggie options to stir into curry:

  • Onions – Diced onions add aromatic flavor. Try red, yellow, white or shallots.
  • Bell peppers – Diced red, yellow or orange peppers add sweetness.
  • Carrots – Grated or diced carrots pair nicely with creamy curries.
  • Cauliflower – Cauliflower florets add body and absorb sauce beautifully.
  • Broccoli – Small broccoli florets work well in wet curries.
  • Potatoes – Diced potatoes add heartiness. Sweet or regular potatoes work.
  • Peas – Frozen peas stir in quickly for color and texture.
  • Spinach – Add spinach at the end to gently wilt into the sauce.
  • Green beans – Trimmed green beans maintain their crispness.
  • Eggplant – Cubed eggplant soaks up flavors in curries.
  • Squash – Zucchini, yellow squash and other tender squash varietals work well.
  • Tomatoes – Diced tomatoes add sweetness and acidity.
  • Mushrooms – Sliced mushrooms add meatiness.

Aim for 1-2 cups of chopped extra vegetables in your curry sauce. For best results, start with firmer vegetables first and add more delicate veggies like spinach nearer the end of cooking.


Incorporating protein-rich ingredients is a satisfying way to turn a veggie-based curry into a well-rounded meal. Consider these add-ins:


  • Chicken – Diced, cooked chicken breast or thighs.
  • Beef – Cubed stew beef or ground beef.
  • Pork – Diced pork shoulder or tenderloin.
  • Lamb – Diced leg of lamb.
  • Turkey – Shredded or diced cooked turkey.
  • Sausage – Removed from casings and crumbled.

For best flavor, brown meats before adding to curry sauce. Use 10-12 ounces of meat per 3-4 servings of curry.


  • Shrimp – Raw shrimp can be poached in the sauce.
  • Scallops – Quickly sear before adding to sauce.
  • Fish – Gentle flaky varieties like cod or halibut work well.
  • Mussels or clams – Add shelled near the end to briefly cook.
  • Crab – Lump crab meat stirs in nicely.

Use 4-6 ounces of seafood per serving. Delicate seafood can overcook quickly, so add near the end of cooking.

Beans and Legumes

  • Chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Beans – kidney, black, pinto, etc.
  • Tofu – cubed extra firm tofu.

Beans add fiber, protein and hearty texture. Drain and rinse canned beans before adding to curries.

Nuts and Seeds

  • Cashews
  • Almonds
  • Pistachios
  • Pine nuts
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds

Nuts and seeds provide crunch and creamy richness. Toast them first to intensify the flavor.

Dairy Products

Dairy products like yogurt, cream and cheese can make curries richer, creamier and more velvety. Stir in:

  • Plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • Heavy cream or coconut milk
  • Soft fresh cheeses like goat cheese or ricotta
  • Grated hard cheese like parmesan, cheddar or monterey jack
  • Cubes of semi-soft cheese like mozzarella or paneer

Use 2-4 tablespoons of dairy per serving of curry. Avoid high heat when adding dairy to prevent curdling.


Mixing grains into curry sauce transforms it into a hearty one-pot meal. Consider these additions:

  • Cooked rice – Jasmine, basmati, brown or wild rice.
  • Farro or barley
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Orzo pasta or egg noodles

Cook grains beforehand or add dry grains to the curry and allow to simmer until tender. Use about 1/2 cup uncooked grain per serving.

Fresh Herbs

Fresh herbs brighten up jarred curry sauce beautifully. Try:

  • Cilantro
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Fenugreek leaves
  • Chives

Roughly chop 1-2 tablespoons of fresh herbs and stir in at the end for a pop of color and freshness. Delicate herbs like basil are best added right before serving.

Spices and Seasonings

Additional spices and aromatics build even more flavor complexity into curry sauce. Consider adding:

  • Garlic – Mince 1-2 cloves per batch.
  • Fresh ginger – Grated for spicy kick.
  • Chili peppers – Finely chop or add chili paste for heat.
  • Cumin
  • Coriander
  • Turmeric
  • Cardamom
  • Cinnamon
  • Cloves
  • Fenugreek
  • Curry powder or garam masala

Start with 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried spices per batch of curry. Add chili or fresh ginger to taste. Blooming spices in oil intensifies their flavor.


A touch of sweetness balances out the rich, spicy flavors of curry. Add a bit of:

  • Honey
  • Maple syrup
  • Brown sugar
  • Coconut sugar

Stir in 1-2 teaspoons of your preferred sweetener per batch and adjust to taste. You can also add diced fruit like pineapple, mango or apple for natural sweetness.


A squirt of citrus juice or splash of vinegar cuts through the richness of curry sauce. Try:

  • Lemon or lime juice
  • Rice wine vinegar
  • White wine vinegar
  • Apple cider vinegar

Start with 1-2 teaspoons and add more to achieve the desired brightness.


Extra virgin olive oil or healthy fats reinforce the mouthfeel of creamy curries. Consider stirring in:

  • Olive oil
  • Coconut oil
  • Avocado oil
  • Ghee or butter

Use 1-2 tablespoons of added fat per batch, taking care not to overwhelm the other flavors.

Recipe Inspiration

Now that we’ve covered a wide selection of mix-ins for curry sauce, let’s look at some recipe ideas to get your creative juices flowing:

Thai Green Curry with Chicken and Rice

– 1 jar Thai green curry sauce
– 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
– 1 cup jasmine rice
– 1 cup frozen peas
– 1 red bell pepper, sliced
– 1 cup chopped cilantro
– Juice of 1 lime

  1. Cook rice according to package instructions.
  2. In large skillet, cook chicken until no longer pink.
  3. Add curry sauce, peas and bell pepper. Simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lime juice.
  5. Serve curry over cooked rice.

Creamy Coconut Curry with Shrimp and Vegetables

– 1 jar red curry sauce
– 1 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
– 1 cup light coconut milk
– 2 cups cauliflower florets
– 1 large carrot, diced
– 1 red bell pepper, sliced
– 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
– Juice of 1 lime
– Chopped cilantro for garnish

  1. In large skillet, combine coconut milk and curry sauce. Simmer 5 minutes.
  2. Add shrimp, cauliflower, carrot and bell pepper. Cook 5 minutes more.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in ginger and lime juice.
  4. Serve curry garnished with cilantro.

Chickpea Curry with Spinach and Potatoes

– 1 jar butter chicken curry sauce
– 2 (15 oz) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
– 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
– 2 cups baby spinach
– 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
– Naan bread, for serving

  1. In large pot, combine curry sauce, chickpeas and potatoes.
  2. Bring to a simmer and cook 15 minutes until potatoes are tender.
  3. Remove from heat. Stir in spinach and yogurt.
  4. Serve with naan bread.

Beef and Vegetable Curry with Cilantro Rice

– 1 jar tikka masala curry sauce
– 1 lb ground beef
– 1 onion, diced
– 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
– 2 cups cauliflower florets
– 1 cup uncooked jasmine rice
– 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

  1. Cook ground beef and onion until beef is no longer pink.
  2. Add curry sauce, carrots and cauliflower. Simmer 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook rice according to package directions. Stir in cilantro.
  4. Serve beef curry over cilantro rice.

Final Tips and Variations

– Make it your own: Tailor add-ins to your taste preferences. Like it spicy? Add an extra pinch of cayenne. Want more richness? Swirl in heavy cream.

– Store leftovers safely: Fully cool curry, then store in airtight containers for 3-4 days. Reheat gently before serving again.

– Try new flavors: Switch up your curry base, expanding beyond Indian flavors. Thai red or green curry pastes offer a nice change of pace.

– Go vegetarian: Omit the meat completely and double up on veggies and beans for hearty plant-based meals.

– Add some crunch: Toasted almonds, cashews or coconut flakes sprinkled on top add nice textural contrast.

– Make it a soup: Thin out thicker curries with veggie or chicken broth for comforting soupy curries.

– Bake it: For a twist, top fish or chicken with curry sauce then bake until cooked through for dynamic flavors.


With an arsenal of simple mix-ins for curry sauce on hand, from vegetables and proteins to dairy and seasonings, you can quickly take basic jars of sauce to new heights. Following flavor-boosting additions like fresh herbs, spices, sweeteners and acids will lend complexity. Fold in produce, grains, beans and more to stretch jars into complete meals. Get inspired by our sample recipes, then get creative making each batch of curry your own. Curry lovers of all skill levels will enjoy experimenting with easy add-ins to make their pre-made curry sauce pop.